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New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Listening to the re-broadcast of the game it was obvious Gruden is the Saints' No. 1 fan in the national media. The broadcast was like a three-hour infomercial on the team and its leaders. Normally I use this space to ...

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Old 11-04-2009, 11:26 PM   #1
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New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

Listening to the re-broadcast of the game it was obvious Gruden is the Saints' No. 1 fan in the national media. The broadcast was like a three-hour infomercial on the team and its leaders.

Normally I use this space to break down plays in the game and take you behind the Saints' strategic calls, but I think it's important to note Gruden's analysis. He is a former coach and he has keen insight into the Saints and their personnel. Not only did he coach against this team the past few years but he's also close friends with Saints coach Sean Payton. So when Gruden speaks, it's important for Saints fans to listen. He's not just another talking head. He knows the Saints up and down. His takes throughout the game were extremely accurate

Gruden spoke reverentially of the Saints for four quarters. He praised Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis for their work in rebuilding the club. He praised Saints fans for their passionate support of the team. He praised Gregg Williams, Will Smith, Darren Sharper, Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter and Jon Vilma for their roles in the improved defense.

In the interest of full disclosure, Gruden is biased. Before becoming the head coach of the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Bucs, he hired Sean Payton to coach quarterbacks as the offensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. Gruden remains one of Payton's closest confidants in the league.

Payton invited Gruden to visit and speak to the Saints during training camp in August. He was one of the few people on the team's bandwagon before the season, picking the Saints to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in ESPN Magazine's NFL Preview issue.

Gruden said he was stimulated by his meeting with Payton and Saints quarterback Drew Brees during camp. He said he's never seen a team conduct more walk-throughs and practices than the Saints and credited the personnel department for discovering sleepers like Pierre Thomas, Lance Moore and Marques Colston and the coaching staff for developing them.

Not surprisingly, Gruden reserved his most passionate praise for Brees, calling him his favorite quarterback in the NFL and crediting him for much of the Saints' success.

"He is a football genius. And nobody outworks Drew Brees. He's a fearless leader," he said. "He plays with a chip on his shoulder. His generalship, his control of this attack, his preparation (are) unbelievable. ... The Saints never make mistakes. This guy's just on top of everything."

Michael DeMocker/The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Saints cornerback Jabari Greer returns an interception of a Matt Ryan pass

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jabari Greer. His interception return for a touchdown before halftime gave the Saints a two-touchdown cushion and the momentum. But his work against Falcons Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White the rest of the game was just as important. Sure, he surrendered that 68-yard bomb to White in the third quarter, but he appeared to lose the ball in the lights and White got away with a slight push to Greer's back to get separation. Otherwise, Greer's play was nearly flawless. He made a beautiful pass breakup in single coverage on White in the second quarter. White ran a quick slant route to beat an all-out blitz by the Saints. Greer was on him like white on rice (or, in this case, is that rice on white?) for the deflection to force a punt on third-and-6. Greer finished with six tackles, a team-high three passes defensed and held White to just four catches in 13 targeted throws. His pressure on a blitz also forced Ryan into a sack in the third quarter.

PLAY OF THE GAME: The Saints received copies of Sam Parker's motivational book "212: The Extra Degree" this year and Jon Vilma exemplified Parker's mission statement on Tracy Porter's fourth-quarter interception. Vilma's exertion to leap at the top of his vertical and tip Matt Ryan's pass into the left flat was impressive. The play occurred late in the fourth quarter. Vilma rarely takes a play off so you know he was dog-tired. Yet, he still found the energy to make the leaping tip. And it was overlooked, but Jo-Lonn Dunbar's pressure contributed to the play. He came free on a blitz and hurried Ryan's throw, which, consequently, wasn't as accurate as he would have liked, leading to the tip and pick. Also, Porter made an excellent running, shoe-string catch on the play. Those are the kind of ball skills Saints defensive backs have lacked in recent years. In past years it might have resulted in drop or deflection. This year it's a game-changing interception.

PRESSURE REPORT: Williams mixed in his usual assortment of blitzes throughout the game. As usual, he became more aggressive when playing with a lead. On the Falcons' final nine plays of the first half, Williams blitzed on seven of them. And true to form, he wasn't afraid to bring defensive backs with the heat. Strong safety Roman Harper blitzed a dozen times. Free safety Darren Sharper blited three times. Nickel and dime backs Randall Gay and Pierson Prioleau were sent a couple of times each. Williams even brought cornerback Jabari Greer a couple of times in the third quarter. Greer's pressure forced Matt Ryan into Will Smith for a sack. Of course, the pressure didn't always work. Williams brought the house on Ryan's 68-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White in the third quarter, sending all three linebackers and Harper after the quarterback but the Falcons picked it up and burned the Saints deep.

ZEBRA REPORT: Jeff Triplette's crew let both sides play. You might have noticed that only a couple of holding calls were made all night. Both lines were getting away with murder up front but the officials kept it consistent and only called the obvious holds when they had no other recourse.

Saints fans thought Thomas DeCoud was guilty of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Brees when he sacked him and forced the fumble in the first quarter but the hit actually was legal. DeCoud didn't launch himself at Brees' head. He actually lowered his head toward Brees' chest but caught the quarterback in the facemark when Drew lowered his head to absorb the blow. Good no call. The Saints also appeared to get a break when Vilma was not whistled for interference against Roddy White on the Greer's 48-yard interception return. Vilma definitely could have been called for illegal contact and obstructing White's ability to catch the ball. Consequently, Greer had a free run to the ball. Triplette's crew also got it right on the replay challenge of Ryan's fumble/incomplete pass call late in the fourth quarter. The only call I didn't agree with was the late fumble by Mike Bell. It appeared his forward progress was clearly stopped when Coy Wire ripped the ball out. Otherwise, though, it was a pretty strong performance by Triplette's crew. They had several very tough calls to make and a handful of reviews and nearly batted 1.000.

SCOUTING REPORT: Falcons right guard Harvey Dahl lived up to his reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the league. He routinely blocked or hit Saints defenders around the pile. After a 4-yard run by Turner on Atlanta's fourth series, he took a shot on Kendrick Clancy, who was defenseless on top of the pile, igniting a brief pushing and shoving match. True to the nature of this heated rivalry, there were several skirmishes around the pile after the whistle. The Saints were also upset that officials didn't call Brian Finneran for a cheap shot on Darren Sharper after the whistle in the second quarter.

DIDYA NOTICE?: The Saints got a huge break when officials called Mike Peterson for a hold on Bush midway through the fourth quarter. Bush appeared to run the wrong route on the play. Mike Peterson had inside coverage on him, calling for Bush to cut outside. Instead he tried to break inside. Brees anticipated Bush breaking outside and threw an incompletion, but officials bailed out the Saints with a dubious holding call on Peterson. It was a huge call. The penalty kept the Saints' drive alive and they eventually marched to a decisive touchdown.


FIRST QUARTER: The obtrusiveness of broadcast television knows no bounds. ESPN actually sent a camera man on to the field for the first play from scrimmage of each half. In the first half Monday night, you could actually see center Todd McClure gesturing incredulously toward the camera as the Falcons started to huddle. ...

Jo-Lonn Dunbar earned the start at strong-side linebacker even though Troy Evans was listed as the starter by the Saints in all of their pre-game documents. It was Dunbar's first start of the season and third start of his career. ...

A rare misdiagnosis by linebacker Scott Shanle resulted in Michael Turner's big 22-yard run on the second play from scrimmage. The Falcons confused Shanle by lining up receiver Brian Finneran in the backfield at fullback. Shanle was so concerned with Finneran he lost sight of the handoff and took a couple of false steps outside while following clearing a wide running lane for Turner up the middle. ...

The Saints opened the game with one of their bread-and-butter runs, an off-tackle call to the left side behind left guard Carl Nicks. ...

If you don't think this is a violent game, rewind Mike Bell's second run of the game. At full speed, he clashes helmets with Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud, flies through the air for almost three yards before crashing hard to the turf on his back with linebacker Mike Peterson on top of him. ...

As noted by Gruden on the MNF broadcast, Brees made a nice audible to pick up a first down on the Saints' first drive, recognizing man-to-man coverage by DeCoud on Jeremy Shockey and motioning Devery Henderson away from the play to isolate the mismatch. Brees than gave hand signal to Shockey, who ran a stick route for a 13-yard reception to convert a third-and-4. ...

Bush got physical in the open field, lowering his shoulder after a short screen pass to bowl over cornerback Tye Hill and did the same to Brent Grimes later in the half.

Susan Poag/The Times-Picayune

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is hit by Atlanta Falcons Thomas DeCoud, who forces a fumble picked up by Kroy Biermann, who scored.

SECOND QUARTER: Like the Dolphins, the Falcons successfully pressured Brees by sending their linebackers on blitzes and getting them in one-on-one matchups against Saints running backs. Curtis Loften, in particular, blew up Pierre Thomas a couple of times en route to the quarterback. ...

Excellent blitz pick up by Bush on DeCoud to give Brees time to find Shockey for a big 27-yard connection. ...

On the ensuing play, it looked like the Saints were trying to hit a bomb on one of their classic deception plays but Jon Babineaux prevented the attempt when he beat Carl Nicks for a sack. The Saints were in "run personnel" with three tight ends, wide receiver Robert Meachem and Pierre Thomas on the field. Brees play-faked a handoff to Thomas and was looking deep for Meachem but Babineaux got to him before the route had time to develop. ..

Usama Young made a terrific play to drop Eric Weems for a short return on the kickoff after the Colston touchdown. Young busted the two-man wedge of Justin Peelle and Chauncy Davis, then still had the wherewithal to stop Weems at the 22. Big-time play. ...

Friendly fire from teammate Darren Sharper temporarily knocked Tracy Porter out of the game. Sharper inadvertently clashed helmets with Porter as they tried to tackle Roddy White on a reception. ...

Inexperience led to Turner's big 37-yard run around the right end. Malcolm Jenkins, who was in the game as a replacement for Porter, was totally confused by Finneran's presence in the backfield, was running the other way and never saw the handoff to Turner. Dunbar lost containment when he crashed hard inside, allowing Turner a free path around the right end. ...

The first time the Saints brought a receiver in motion to the backfield and faked a reverse handoff to Henderson, it appeared to catch the Falcons off guard and resulted in a 30-yard run by Pierre Thomas. David Thomas had an outstanding lead block on the play, driving cornerback Chevis Jackson six yards downfield. ...

Moore appeared to suffer his bruised shin while being tackled after a 7-yard gain on a short catch in the right flat. ...

A really nice zone-blitz pickup by Jon Stinchcomb and Jahri Evans on DeCoud and Mike Peterson allowed Brees time to find Meachem for a big 30-yard gain downfield. DeCoud tipped his hand on the blitz and the ever-observant Brees recognized it pre-snap, then audibled to a new protection scheme. ...

The Saints used a new goal-line play to score their third TD. Using their "jumbo" package, featuring three tight ends and extra lineman Zach Strief, they split tight ends Shockey and Darnell Dinkins wide to each side of the formation, then faked a handoff to David Thomas at fullback, which collapsed the Falcons defense inside. Brees then pitched wide left to Bush who trotted into the end zone untouched around left end. Shockey got "dinged" on the play while making a block on Coy Wire. ...

Darnell Dinkins really struggled to protect the Falcons' right end on place kicks. He was called for holding once and almost allowed another kick to be blocked.

THIRD QUARTER: Brees made the same audible to a pass to Shockey on a key third down on their second series of the quarter. He saw linebacker Steven Nicholas in single coverage against Shockey to the right side of the formation, motioned Meachem away from Shockey's side, then audibled for Shockey to run a slant route. Brees hit Shockey for an easy 8-yard gain. First down. ...

Another example of how the Saints keep defenses off-balance occurred on the Saints' second series. On second-and-5, they showed "run" personnel with Dinkins at tight end and fullback Kyle Eckel on the field. Brees play-faked a handoff to Mike Bell, then hit a wide-open Meachem for a 17-yard gain. The Saints, and in particular Sean Payton, are extremely adept at these kinds of plays to avoid tendencies and keep defenses off-balance. ...

There appeared to be no problems with the snap or hold on John Carney's missed 39-yard field goal. He just pushed it right. ...

Throws don't get any better than the one Ryan threaded through the Saints' zone coverage to White for a 29-yard gain. Ryan slipped the ball just over Shanle's outstretched arm and in front of the safeties, hitting White in perfect stride. Not much the Saints defense could do about that one. Great play.


Jon Vilma showed his range on a key third-down stop on a wide pitch to the speedy Eric Weems. Vilma beat Weems to the sideline to stop him for a 1-yard gain. Not many if any middle linebackers in the league are fast enough to make that play. ...

Ironically, Payton subbed Pierre Thomas for Mike Bell on the short-yardage play right before Thomas' fumble. Bell had just come up short on a second-and-2 play and Thomas was a late sub for Bell. ...

The Saints forgot to tackle Turner on a short first-down run into the line and Turner bounced it outside, slipped tackles by Harper and Sharper en route to a 24-yard run. Really sloppy tackling by the defense on that one. ...

Credit right tackle Jon Stinchcomb with an excellent lead block on Pierre Thomas' late touchdown catch. First, Stinchcomb held up defensive end Kroy Biermann's pass rush at the point of attack, then he slipped out in to the right flat and took out Peterson to clear a path for Thomas' spectacular leaping score. A very athletic play by a big guy. ...

Marvin Mitchell replaced Jo-Lonn Dunbar late in the game in passing situations.

PERSONNEL PACKAGES: With fullback Heath Evans on the shelf, Payton had to get creative with his his usual assortment of play calls. He had to adjust even more after Lance Moore went down with a shinn injury in the second quarter. Accordingly, the Saints tight ends saw their most action of the year. The Saints used multiple tight ends on 40 of 70 snaps. Tight end David Thomas worked at the fullback/H-back spot on 19 plays. New fullback Kyle Eckel got nine snaps. Tight end Darnell Dinkins even worked one snap in the backfield. The running back snaps were divided this way: Thomas 30; Bell 22; and Bush 18. Bush's reps were down because of the lack of three-receiver sets. The Saints played just 13 downs with more than two receivers. That has to be a season low and perhaps a low in the Payton era. Once Moore went down, Payton was limited to only three healthy receivers. He called only three three-receiver sets in the second half, choosing to employ multiple-tight end packages instead.
Here's a look at the Saints' personnel packages on their 70 offensive snaps:
2WR/2TE/1RB - 22 out of 70 plays
2WR/1TE/1RB/1FB - 17 out of 70 plays
3WR/1TE/1RB - 7 out of 70 plays
3WR/1RB/1FB - 6 out of 70 plays
1WR/3TE/1RB - 8 out of 70 plays
1WR/2TE/1RB/1FB - 7 out of 70 plays
3TE/1RB/1FB - 2 out of 70 plays
2TE/1RB/1FB/1S - 1 out of 70 plays


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Last edited by hagan714; 11-07-2009 at 01:23 AM..
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:47 PM   #2
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

nice article

Last edited by hagan714; 11-07-2009 at 01:24 AM..
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:50 PM   #3
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

A lot to read. I like the break down. Grudaddy loves the Saints. I bet ya he wishes he had Drew.
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:54 PM   #4
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

Originally Posted by QBREES9 View Post
A lot to read. I like the break down. Grudaddy loves the Saints. I bet ya he wishes he had Drew.
Him and the rest of the league...
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:55 PM   #5
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

Definitely a lot of great info. Thanks.
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Old 11-05-2009, 12:10 AM   #6
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

The addition of Gruden to Monday Night Football is a major improvement. Night and day over the broadcasts with Tony K who didn't belong there. I'm afraid it will be short lived because you know some team is going to snatch him up. Even when he was the skipper of The Bucs I always had great respect for him always put a competitive team on the field. Smart move by the Bucs ownership
to fire him, the team is doing so much better without him. Tampa and Washington must go to the same management conventions. Good article Qbrees9!
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Old 11-05-2009, 12:53 AM   #7
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

I've liked Gruden, since his days out here in Oakland. He really has gotten the shaft, in both of his head coaching positions. He's never been fired for losing, considering both years, before his departures, he was in the playoffs, and had great winning records. I like him on MNF, but you guys are right, he will be hired somewhere. I just don't see him going to the Skins. After his stint with Al Davis, he knows too well, what a domineering owner, will do to a team.

I heard that Louisville is going to offer him a major contract, to be head coach there. Might just be a rumor though.

What's popular is not always right, and what's right is not always popular.....
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Old 11-05-2009, 08:05 AM   #8
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

I heard that Louisville is going to offer him a major contract, to be head coach there. Might just be a rumor though.

I hope this is true. He would be a great College coach.
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Old 11-05-2009, 10:33 AM   #9
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

It was GREAT being able to watch the Saints on MNF without hearing Kornholio go on and on about nothing but Hurrican Katrina and Bret Favre.

That guy would always find 10 or 20 opportunities in every game to talk about Favre, even when he wasn't playing in that game. Then when the Saints played, he just wanted to talk about Bush and Katrina.

The MNF booth crew seemed to largely ignore the fact that there was a football game going on right in front of them. This year's crew is MUCH improved... I hope they don't change it for a while.
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Old 11-05-2009, 11:51 PM   #10
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Re: New Orleans Saints film study: The Saints' No. 1 fan is Jon Gruden

Originally Posted by QBREES9 View Post
A lot to read. I like the break down. Grudaddy loves the Saints. I bet ya he wishes he had Drew.
yupp im sure he does wish cuase buccs never had a stable QB lucliy we got drew!
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